The Artist in the Library

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Qualmann, Clare (2017)

Through the course of this paper I seek to intertwine a story of my own creative relationship with libraries with accounts of artists’ work, including the work of my students. My goal is to articulate the ways in which artists work with, in, and on libraries and in doing this to define features of a library aesthetic. It is impossible, writing in London in 2016, to ignore the dire context for UK public libraries. Reductions in local government funding have resulted in widespread disregard by local authorities to their responsibilities under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act – their statutory duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons to make use thereof’. (Culture, Media and Sport Committee 2012, online) Cuts to library services continue apace [{note}]1. Writers, poets, artists and authors add their pleas to the protests against closures [{note}]2, but go largely unheeded. The idea of defining a library aesthetic might seem futile in the face of this austerity drive, but through my analysis of such an aesthetic, I hope to explore the potential of artworks to highlight and extend our understanding of its possibilities.
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